Magazine Covers as Advertising – Part Two: Outdoor Life
After looking through a mountain of old Outdoor Lifes I have come to the conclusion that over the years they have had a lot more covers that fall into the category of ones that I don't forget than Field & Stream. There are not only plenty examples of striking art work covers, but also some covers featuring photos that have branded themselves into the far recesses of my mind.
I'll start off with the December 1947 issue. Most duck hunting covers feature lots of ducks coming into the blind or already in the bag with happy looking duck hunters. This cover captures that feeling that I have had many times over the years and that anyone who hunts ducks in the northern part of the country knows all too well: “What the heck am I doing here freezing my ### off on a day like this?” Winter weather duck hunting can be very productive but often test ones intestinal fortitude. As I have gotten older its appeal has faded. LOL
This August 1933 cover features a subject seldom seen on outdoor magazine covers, taxidermy. I have always had a soft spot for J.F. Kernan covers, but this one strikes me as very different. One does not hear much about “home taxidermy” as a hobby anymore. There was a time when it was quite popular among hunters and fishermen, especially as a winter adjunct to more popular mild weather sports.
This April 1956 cover by artist Charles Dye has always been a standout with its plain white back ground. As one scrolls quickly down through the hundreds of Outdoor Life issues available on eBay these days, this cover always seems to jump off the screen as something special. Contrast this with any of today's cluttered and forgettable covers.
This April 1934 cover by J.F. Kernan features none of the usual cover art “action” but only a desk-bound office worker dreaming of the upcoming Trout season after a long winter. Who cannot identify with this fellow, yearning for the return of warm weather and a chance to once again cast a line. This painting, entitled “SPRING” is still popular among collectors as a print.
I still recall the day in 1957 when this October issue of Outdoor Life arrived in my mailbox. It is still (55 years later) one of the most striking and sought after issues of all time. This just goes to prove that a cover using a photograph can be just as much of a standout as one with a unique painting.
Finally I will end with a cover by famous illustrator Fred Everett. The June 1933 issue does not stand out in my mind because of its unique subject (a Bass chasing a minnow and spinner combination) but rather in its use of a beautiful blended orange background. To me this really sets it apart from most issues in the stacks. Hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. Tight Lines.
-- Bill Sonnett